We are chatting with guitarist Lance Ruby today about the business of being a musician. He created the music for this podcast and is finishing up his masters degree in jazz performance at the University of Northern Colorado. Lance and I go way back. Our fathers were best men in each other's weddings and we've reconnected through his girlfriend Natasha who works for KRose Company.
"Every working musician is an entrepreneur," he said. "They're an entrepreneur in a really real sense because you're working in the business of you. You're trying to promote you and what you do in music, and just like any other business you have a product. If you're a guitar teacher or an educator of some kind, you're selling the product of your teaching. If you're a studio musician, you're selling your services as a studio musician." Lance has tried to find strategies from more "straight-ahead entrepreneurs" to influence how he markets and provides services in the music world.
Through this process, Lance has become a member of several bands local to his area in Northern Colorado. He teaches at a studio and has his own teaching studio, and he freelances in projects like composing our podcast music.
"I think it’s important for businesses to try and develop an identity. I think if businesses like Apple, they’re kind of polarizing, but there is a personality behind that business. If you enjoy that personality, you buy those products," he said.
Lance started playing guitar around 13 years old. " You have to put some amount of time in to really master the art of what you're trying to put out there," he said. His goals are to gig, play as much music as humanly possible, better his graft and find himself in situations where he has to learn more. "Anytime you're forced to learn a new type of music and not be comfortable with what you're doing, it forces you to grow.
Although working musicians need to be business minded, you don't have to do it in an over-the-top manner. "You don’t have to be the cheesy guy at the mixer that’s handing out business cards. You can approach networking from a real place of humanity."
As with most entrepreneurs, it's hard for a musician to make a living doing one thing. Lance talked about finding ways to combine sources of revenue as a musician through teaching, gigging, freelance work, releasing records, and publishing books. "Try to think about creative solutions to get people to need you for more than one thing," he said.
Listen in on this week's podcast to hear more about the business of music and how Lance defines success in this realm.
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